Limitation of Liability Hearings


The New York Times, Saturday, June 26, 1915


Managing Director Had Charge of Their Launching, Testifies Karl H. Behr




Writer's Widow Describes Separation from Husband Just Before Ship Went Down.


More direct testimony of witnesses regarding the sinking of the Titanic in April, 1912, was heard yesterday before Judge Julius M. Mayer in the United States District Court in the suit brought by the White Star Line to have its liabilities limited. Karl H. Behr, the tennis player, said he was awake at the time the boat struck, and, feeling a slight jar, went on Deck A, where he found passengers putting on life belts. The list to starboard, he said, was noticeable. He went below and aroused Miss Beckwith, who has since become his wife, and her mother and father. He said it was thirty-five or forty minutes after the ship struck before the passengers received any warning of danger.

The witness said Miss Beckwith asked J. Bruce Ismay, who was Managing Director of the line and who was in his shirt-sleeves giving orders, if their partycould go in one boat. Mr. Ismay, he said, was in entire charge of the launching of the boats, and when their boat was lowered Mr. Ismay gave the order to lower away. The boat, he said, contained about forty-five or fifty passengers and could have accommodated fifteen or twenty more.

 Mrs. Jacques Futrelle, who husband, the well-known writer, perished, was the next witness. At the time of the collision, she said, she was reading, and that her husband went on deck to investigate. When he returned, Mrs. Futrelle said, her husband told her that an officer had told him that there was absolutely no danger. Some minutes later, she said, the stewards came around and ordered them on deck. Reaching the deck, she said the men were sent elsewhere, and this was the first intimation that there was danger, and that she was to be separated from her husband. While some women were getting into the life boats, Mrs. Futrelle said, she went to deck A, where she found her husband with a number of men who were smoking, walking about and chatting as if unconscious of their danger. When the ship began to sink her husband told her to go above and get into a boat, as it would give him a better chance to save himself.

 Eugene Daly of Newark, N.J., was awakened when the Titanic struck, but was assured there was no danger. The stewards, he said, ordered all hands on deck, and when he reached there he found some of the stewards laughing and smoking cigarettes. He said he returned below and aroused some of his friends. He saw three lifeboats lowered, and when he attempted to get into one an officer threatened him, although the boats were far from full. He said he heard two shots at this time, and later saw two men lying on the deck, and was told that they had been shot. When the ship listed he jumped into the water and clung to an upturned boat until morning. Eventually he was picked up by the boat in which he was first refused permission to get in. He said several women refused to get into the lifeboats because the officers told them there was no danger.

 Adrian J. Keegan of the United States Hydrographic Bureau submitted verification of the pilot charts for March and April from 1907 to 1912, and they were admitted in evidence.

 Captain Robert Niss of the steamship Bohemia testified as to ice conditions. Even on a clear, starlight night, he said, he could not guarantee to see ice far enough ahead to avoid striking it. Even on a bright moonlight night, unless the moon was behind the ice, outlining it, ice might easily be overlooked if he entered an ice zone described to be similar to that under which the Titanic met her fate, he said he would have slowed down to a speed which made it certain that he could stop in an emergency.

Captain Henry Meyerdierks of the Steamship President Grant, of the Hamburg-American Line, said if he had received warnings similar to those received by the Titanic he would have gone at least fifty miles south of the danger zone as indicated.

It is expected that the case for the survivors will be closed today.